PLEASE NOTE: The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed on BaltimoreRavens.com represent those of individual authors, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions or policies of the Baltimore Ravens' organization, front office staff, coaches and executives. Authors' views are formulated independently from any inside knowledge and/or conversations with Ravens officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.
Last time the Ravens saw Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, he was crumbling into Terrell Suggs’ arms on the final play of a 35-7 loss.
Big Ben wasn’t so big that day. He threw three interceptions, took four sacks and lost two fumbles.
Much has changed since then, however.
Roethlisberger is on a four-game winning streak that rivals the best stretch of his career.
He’s playing so well, the question is whether Roethlisberger is at his all-time finest heading into Sunday night’s game.
“I think Ben’s playing as well as he’s played in the last four weeks as he’s played his whole career,” Harbaugh said. “He’s playing at that level. I think you see them playing their style, the last four weeks, that you’re used to seeing over the last few years. So, he’s doing that very well.”
During the last four weeks, Roethlisberger has thrown 11 touchdowns and two interceptions. He has produced back-to-back 300-yard passing games (361 and 365 yards, respectively) for only the second time in his eight-year career.
Roethlisberger matched a career-high with five touchdowns passes in Week 5 against the Tennessee Titans. He set a Steelers franchise record with a 95-yard touchdown pass against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 7.
Roethlisberger overcame a longtime obstacle last week, beating New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady at his own game, airing the ball out 50 times and completing 36 (two off his career high).
For that effort, Roethlisberger was named the AFC Offensive Player of the Week.
The Steelers have put the ball in his hands more than ever before this season. Roethlisberger is averaging a career-high 35.5 passing attempts per game this season. His 2,302 passing yards are fifth-most in the NFL, right behind Aaron Rodgers and Brady.
Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin dodged whether his quarterback is at his best right now.
“He’s been playing pretty good,” he said. “I hadn’t thought about it from a historical perspective, if you will. You know, he’s made the necessary plays for us to get out of stadiums with wins, and that’s what we call him to do.”
For the most part, that’s what Roethlisberger has done against the Ravens – win. Pittsburgh’s Week 1 loss was his first against Baltimore since 2006.
But Roethlisberger hasn’t looked as good against the Ravens as he has versus the Titans, Jaguars, Cardinals and Patriots over the past four weeks.
A career 63.2 percent passer, Roethlisberger hasn’t completed at least 60 percent of his passes in a game against Baltimore since 2008, when he started facing Harbaugh’s Ravens.
During those seven games, Roethlisbeger has a 54.9 completion percentage. He’s taken 27 sacks, an average of nearly four per game, and thrown eight touchdowns to six interceptions.
Suggs has often said he has a great deal of respect for Roethlisberger, but he also didn’t seem all that awestruck by his current run.
Told that Roethlisberger won AFC Offensive Player of the Week, he sarcastically and comically said, “Congratulations.”
“He is at his best when he is playing pickup football,” Suggs said. “He gets loose, he shakes off two or three guys, and then he throws a shot deep. … But, we have some guys here, particularly myself, to make sure he doesn’t have one of those type of days.”